Saturday, August 31, 2013

Old Sconset Golf (Sunday brunch: September 1, 2013)

Hole #6 is a very short par 4.  I birdied it Monday thanks to an ugly
approach shot that still rolled to five feet from the hole.
One more travel-related post before the summer ends, and another Siasconset peculiarity.

The Old Siasconset Golf Club is said to be the oldest non-municipal public golf course in the nation, though it hasn’t been in continuous operation all that time.  It opened in 1894, and some parts of the original course remain.  Sabers and I get a few rounds on it every summer.

This may be the closest any of us can come today to the golfing experience of a century ago.  No carts, a simple clubhouse, and a golf links in its natural state.

The routing has changed over the years as a result of land sales and such circumstances, but the oddity of three par-3s of 200 yards or more, a couple of par-4s under 300, and a dogleg par-5 where the short shot is the one off the tee speak to this course’s time.  Meanwhile, the winds make every hole play differently from day to day.  From the tee of #8 Saturday with the wind at my back and a firm fairway with very short grass, I hit a three-iron about 250 yards.  Monday, the wind was in the other direction, knocking down my four-iron to where it barely cleared the red tees 120 yards out.

I imagine it’s like Muirfield with long rough waving at you and the wind blowing a different direction every hole.  On paper, it should be an easy course; but if you insist on playing the way you would at home, she will not bend.  The firm conditions and tight lies gave me fits at first, causing me to leave approaches long and chips short, but Monday I resolved to listen to the course.  I kept the ball in the fairway (most of the time), played bump-and-runs, and had a much more successful day.

I suppose you could make an analogy here: American cryptics are the kind of golf courses where yardages are marked on sprinkler heads and you expect balls to stay on the green when they land there. This course and its Scottish counterparts are like British cryptics (and some The Nation puzzles): the clubs, the balls, and the rules are the same as on our side of the ocean, but the land is naturally uneven and yes, sometimes unfair.  You need creativity to conquer it, as well as a sound golf/puzzling game.  

If it’s too rainy for golf and you don’t have a jigsaw puzzle to work on, you could do some of these crosswords:

The New York Times puzzle (behind the paywall) is a themed diagramless by Joe Fagliano.  If you need the solution, it’s posted here.

The Wall Street Journal has a novel variety puzzle by Patrick Berry (who else?) called Belt Line.  Some found it hard, others found it easy.  The starting points of the horizontal belts are shown on the grid, but you’re on your own for the verticals and for all the enumerations.  I didn’t get much of a start from the horizontals (you can place the first and last words in each belt using the given start points), but I had a lot of the verticals, so I eventually just took the plunge and put a few of the verticals where I thought they belonged.  I had to erase a couple of the initial guesses, but it was enough to get a couple more horizontal words, and it was really enjoyable to see the grid fill up from there.  If you’re still stuck, a hint grid is posted, along with enumerations.

Hex’s block cryptic in the National Post is blogged by Falcon.  I didn’t see the theme, but I found it more difficult than the usual National Post cryptic.  Falcon wrestled with it too, and in the process found the theme.

Xanthippe has taken the week off after leaving us with such riches the past month.

Nathan Curtis’s weekly variety puzzle should be up later today.  [update: and here it is...  It’s a puzzle type I haven’t seen before: another variation on the Marching Bands called “Four Winds.”  The good thing about this is that the answers in the spirals are clued in random order, making this more of a challenge than the average Marching Bands.  Drop over and send some encouragement if you liked it.]

Your humble blogger.

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